Victoria Falls Lunar Rainbow

Chasing Southern Africa's Lunar Rainbow

Each month, right around the full moon, the Southern African wilderness opens up and welcomes visitors in for a unique nighttime adventure. The sounds of the wild are a little bit louder while the hanging vines and thick branches dance in the moonlight, seemingly coming to life.

It’s no secret that Southern Africa is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. The Namib desert conjures up images of landscapes found millions of lightyears away. The Zambezi River provides countless opportunities to spot hippos, elephants and crocs bathing in the water. Victoria Falls is renowned as the largest waterfall in the world and one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. But, what you probably don’t know, is that Victoria Falls is also home to a spectacular nighttime phenomenon that’s only visible on nights when a full moon is present – the lunar rainbow.

Sunset over Victoria Falls

What is a Lunar Rainbow?

Lunar rainbows, or moonbows, are a truly unique natural phenomenon that can only be seen in a few places around the world, when the conditions are just right. You’ll need the perfect cocktail of light, water and the perfect angle for viewing. Lunar rainbows are projected by the light from the moon, not directly by the sun. When the rays of moonlight hit the curtain of spray floating in the air just right, the lunar rainbow is projected.  Since the moon offers significantly less light than the sun, the lunar rainbow doesn’t trigger the color-sensitive cones in our eyes and simply appears to be a white arch in the sky. This isn’t an issue for cameras though, so come prepared with a tripod and slow shutter-speed and you’ll be rewarded with impressive photos to share with your friends back home!

Evening time at Victoria Falls

Where to see one

For 3 nights each month – the night before, night of, and night after a full moon – the national parks in both Zimbabwe and Zambia  open for visitors after dark. This means you’ll have the opportunity to try your luck at witnessing this spectacle. Lucky for you, Victoria Falls is known for its high chances of catching this rare phenomenon. Thanks to its different vantage points being strategically placed around the falls, you’ll be positioned at the perfect angle to make the moonbow visible to you. For your best chances of catching a lunar rainbow, plan your trip for January – July. This is when water levels are at their highest, meaning there’s an increase in the amount of mist coming off the falls.

Lions on safari in South Africa

Getting you there

If chasing a lunar rainbow sounds thrilling to you (as it should!) but you don’t want to deal with the headache of planning the logistics on your own, our special lunar rainbow departure is for you! Explore the best of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe with a special excursion to see a lunar rainbow. You’ll be accompanied by TV presenter, photographer and National Geographic Explorer, George Kourounis, who will get you up close to the action and give tips on how best to photograph the natural marvel. You’ll also get the added bonus of Southern Africa’s dramatic scenery, rich culture, diverse wildlife and the opportunity to partake in numerous activities thrown into the mix.

 

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